Health Service Focus

10.10.19

NHS taskforce aimed at young people’s mental health, learning disability and autism care

NHS Chief Simon Stevens has announced today (October 10) the setting up of a new taskforce to improve current specialist children and young people’s mental health, autism and learning disability services in England.

This forms part of the NHS Long Term Plan, dedicated to improving patient wellbeing and outlining an ambitious transformation of mental health, autism and learning disability services.

A particular focus will be placed on enhancing community services and taking the pressure off inpatient care. This ties in with another aim to significantly improve the relationship with schools and councils.

The new measures, announced on World Mental Health Day, will help children and their families living with these issues to expect the highest quality care and safety within the NHS.

Specialist taskforce teams will comprise of doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals.

An independent oversight board, chaired by children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield, will also be established. 

The board will have access to extensive opportunity to track progress and suggest improvements in existing services.

It will also analyse the best approach to issues like inappropriate care, out of area placements, length of stays and supervise the development of closer-to-home alternatives to care.

Ultimately being able to ‘scrutinise and support’ the work of the taskforce.

Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive said:

 “This taskforce will place a spotlight on services and care for some of the most vulnerable young people in our society, bringing together families, leading clinicians, charities, and other public bodies to help make these services as effective, safe and supportive as possible for thousands of families.”

“The NHS Long Term Plan lays out a package of measures which will mean more than two million extra children and adults get the mental health care they need and while early intervention to stop ill health escalating is a priority, we are also determined to provide the strongest possible safety net for families living with the most acute conditions.”

The main aims of the taskforce are to rapidly improve quality of care - within the next 18 months but effective immediately and to agree on next step recommendations for individuals who are suffering.  

The Plan has committed to delivering a £2.3 billion funding pot for community mental health services, as well as providing care for 345,000 extra young people and more than 370,000 adults with severe mental illness.

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